February 9, 2012

Family Feature: My Friend Laura

Well it only took me four and half months to get to my next family feature after the one I did about my friend Sam! I am nothing if not prompt and timely.

Ah my sweet pal Laura. This is another friend I grew up with in Hawaii. We went to the same schools pretty much our whole lives, until her family left Hawaii when we were both in high school. Laura and I rode bikes together a lot as kids. I remember vividly a lot of bikes and the time when I stayed over at her house and we watched some TV movie with Trini Alvarado. Does anyone remember her? I was obsessed with Trini’s awesome hair. What has always struck me about Laura is a quality she’s had as long as I’ve known her – she had it as a kid, she has it still. She is truly truly KIND. And you don’t find those folks on every street corner, I am here to tell you.

Laura has been such a sweet supporter of my blog and is ALWAYS keen to talk books with me! She’s the one who told me about ‘The Cinnamon Bear’. And she was kind enough to let me poke my nose into her book-reading business at home with her gorgeous kids, Wyatt and Brynly.

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Darling Miss Laura, as the parent of a singleton, I'm always intrigued by how parents of multiple kids handle reading aloud time, especially with kids of different genders. Are your kids close enough in age to enjoy the same or similar books? Or do you carve out individual reading times with them?

You know, this is something that my husband and I always pass along to new parents (if they ask) because it's worked so wonderfully for our family. After we had Wyatt, we wanted to share bedtime duties for a few reasons: 1) so that Wyatt wasn't reliant on a single parent for his nighttime routine - allowing easier bedtimes when one of us was traveling/out, 2) to share the duties so that one parent wasn't doing it all, and most importantly, 3) so that we both got to witness Wyatt's glee at bath time, and we both got to bond with him during the bedtime reading/rocking/lullaby time.

So. When it was just one kid, we switched off -- if Marc gave Wyatt his bath, then I put him to bed, and then the next night we'd switch and I'd do bath and Marc would do bed. When Brynly came along it got a bit more complicated. Now if I give the showers/baths one night, then Marc does that the next night. And every night we switch off bedtime/reading to each kid.

This was an issue when Brynly was going through her "mommy only" phase, but we powered through and without fail, each night she'd forget about Mommy within a couple minutes of Daddy reading some story in a silly voice. Of course, when one of us is out of town, it gets trickier. So what I do is on those nights, the kids and I pile into Brynly's bed and read a couple picture books, we say goodnight and then Wyatt and I go into his room and I read some of whatever chapter book we're currently reading. Then I usually crawl to my room and pass out and thank the stars that Marc doesn't travel all that much! Talk about tired!

What's Brynly's favorite book?

First off, can I just tell you that the questions you ask are HARD?! I mean, how can I narrow things down to a single favorite? I'm far too fickle and polygamous (literarily speaking) for just one. And apparently my kids feel the same, as you will see. (Note from Melissa: HA HA HA HA! Oh and I cannot express my love for Brynly’s outfit in words.)

Brynly is really into animals, and while there have been a barrage of dog or cat or bear books, her self proclaimed current favorite is ‘Race the Wild Wind’ by Sandra Markle. But in heavy rotation are anything Madeline, ‘The Legend of The Laughing Gecko’ by Bruce Hale, and ‘Magic Hoofbeats’ by Josepha Sherman, which is a collection of folk tales based on horses from different cultures. Again, way too many to list, and I got "hrmph!" with a stomped foot when I told her that was all I could list. Don't worry, I think she has recovered.

What's Wyatt's favorite book?

I asked Wyatt, and he said it's the ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ series by Cressida Cowell. In fact, he loves them so much that he dressed as Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the III this past Halloween, and made sure he told everyone that he was "the one from the book, not the movie." Most people didn't understand why he was making the distinction, but if you've read the books and watched the film, you'll understand why he was adamant about explaining the difference. Wyatt wanted me to be sure I told you that his "second favorite" is the series we're currently reading -- right now we're on book 2 of Chris D'Lacey's Dragonfire books. His "third favorite" is anything about Henry Huggins and Ribsy oriented, by Beverly Cleary. He'd laugh out loud at the mishaps Henry and Ribsy got into. He even ventured into Beezus and Ramona because he loved the characters so much. There are so many he's loved though, and EB White's books are his "fourth favorite, but I like them as much as the others." See? They must have my fickle genes.

(Note from Melissa: I ADORED the Henry Huggins books when I was young!)

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Now that Wyatt is off reading on his own, does he still enjoy being read to?

Wyatt prefers to have bedtime chapter books read to him. He reads a lot in school and I've even found him reading to his sister every so often (is there anything better to see? Truly?). At night we'll have him read a book of his choice aloud to us for 10-15 minutes, and then we'll read to him from whatever chapter book we're working through. I have to admit that on the nights I'm not reading to him, I want to sneak into his room and get caught up on the part of the book I missed...thank goodness for great kids' lit!

A Hole
What's YOUR favorite book from your childhood?

See, this is where I think you have a mean streak, Miss Melissa! How can I choose? Yipes.
My parents gifted books to me a lot. Dad would bring a book home as a treat from any business trip he made. I still read those favorites from my childhood to my kids -- and I love that a book my Dad gave me so long ago, is bringing my children joy today. This is especially dear to me since he passed two years ago. I feel Dad with us when I'm reading these careworn books to them, and it makes me so happy. I mean, who knew that ‘Issunboshi’ (given to me in the early '80s) would be in heavy rotation among my daughter's bedtime favorites?

I loved all the Mousekin books by Edna Miller. I was obsessed with all things small, and her illustrations transported me. ‘Mousekin's Golden House’ was a constant. ‘Gilberto and The Wind’ by Marie Hall Ets is tied for first, too. The story is simple but wonderful, and the illustrations! Love. And I can't leave out ‘A Hole is to Dig’ by Ruth Krauss. I know, I listed too many - sorry! And those are just a few from the early years, before I could read by myself. So cruel to ask this question!

(Note from Melissa: Yes, I am pure evil. Tee hiddly hee!)

If you could be a character from Children's Lit, who would it be and why?
Pippi Longstocking. No question. She can do anything she wants, eat dessert for breakfast, is uber talented, has a crazy good imagination, and is hilarious! What kid wouldn't want to live in that wacky house and rule the roost? And I will make the distinction, like Wyatt did with Hiccup, that this is the book version of Pippi and not the movie version. Big difference!

Thanks SOOOOO much to you Miss Laura!!! I’ve found some new books to go find from your lists! And HECK YES, I’d want to be Pippi too. She’s a rad chick.


  1. Thanks Laura!! Super cute kids and i love all your detailed info.
    Lots of Aloha!!!!!

  2. Aren't her kids amazing???? I want to sprinkle Brynly on a hot fudge sundae! And those pictures of Wyatt in his costume and reading just made me MELT.

  3. Thank you so much Laura! I feel like I just made a new friend and you don't even know who I am!!! But that was really lovely, you had me tearing up in that part about your dad (I'm super emotional about losing parents lately) I can't wait to go find many of the books on your list! wonderful wonderful!!!

  4. @Robyn: Laura has AMAZING book taste -- she has given me tips on the most wonderful finds!

  5. Melissa is far too kind and clearly she doesn't work with me -- I'm not always so kind! haha

    Tats - HI!! Much aloha to you, too!!

    Robyn, very happy to meet you. ;) Oh, I had a whole slew of books to list, but Melissa is mean mean mean! hahaha But she knows me well, and boundaries work very well with my rambling style.

    Thank you Melissa!

  6. I once got into an argument at the law firm where I used to work with some guy about what was the proper definition of 'nougat' -- it was a very ugly scene, I tell you what.

    Laura, you can guest blog for me anytime and share more of your favorites!! xo

  7. What IS the proper definition? Now I'm curious.

  8. It depends on whether you classify it as fluffy or chewy! I think it's chewy. :)

  9. Chewy, for sure.